Factors influencing the infant feeding choices of HIV-positive mothers at a level two hospital in Cape Town
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Background/Aims: Following the decision by the South African Department of Health in 2012 to withdraw the provision of free infant formula milk to HIV-exposed infants, policy makers have grappled with the need to develop guidelines to help HIV-positive mothers decide whether they should breastfeed their babies. The objectives of this study were to assess the infant feeding choices of HIV-positive mothers and to determine factors influencing their behaviours prior to the process of withdrawing the provision of free infant formula milk. Methods: A quantitative approach was employed in this study, including the use of a survey to collect descriptive data on a consecutive sample (n=100). Data analysis was carried out using the IBM SPSS Version 20. Results: More than half (54%) of the participants indicated that their infants were exclusively breastfed, and 46% of the participants reported exclusively formula feeding. There was no statistical difference between both groups with regards to: race; employment status; obstetric history; HIV disclosure status; knowledge and awareness of infant feeding recommendations or policies regarding breastfeeding promotion. Conclusions: The findings of this study show that health-care workers are the main providers of counselling on infant feeding. Inconsistent messages from health professionals, health facility practices and government policies were also observed.